I Am Who I Am- My Transgender Experience
This blog has been written by trans contributor Matthew/Megan in order to express her feelings on a very personal issue which is often not discussed openly, but which fortunately is now becoming more recognized in society.
The issue that I would like to discuss is the discrimination against the LGBT community and how people that have not ‘come out of the closet’ feel about taking their first nerve wracking steps out. Although being LGBT is more common nowadays it seems that there is still has a stigma attached. This might come as a surprise, as research shows that one in two young people say they are not 100% heterosexual. (Source: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/16/half-young-not-heterosexual/) So if this is the case why does the stigma still exist and why hasn’t it been dispelled? I think this might have something to do with fear of the unknown.
I feel that people find it easy to discriminate against the LGBT community, maybe because they are perceived to wear different clothes or act differently. I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr whenever I think about discrimination, in particular, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I feel that this fits perfectly with what I am writing about.
There are two sides to a person’s gender. There is the physical appearance and there is the psychological side. For most people these are the same; however in some people they are not the same. The physical state doesn’t match the psychological one. Sometimes one is more dominant than the other.
My birth name is Matthew. I was born a male but at the age of 5, I started to wonder if I was born in the right body. I found myself identifying more as female. At the age of 6 I was caught by my dad wearing my step sister’s clothes. I got a smack across the back of my hand and although I told my dad that I felt like I was born in the wrong body, I got told off for this and was told that “people like that end up in a hospital”. After coming home from school the next day my dad had told my mother what he had seen and my mother then also told me off for wearing my step sister’s clothes. My mother made me feel like this was wrong and that there must be something wrong with me.
After being told off I felt as if nobody would understand what I was going through, so I locked it away and tried to hide from the ‘elephant in the room’. Feeling like there was no solution to the way that I felt I started to become depressed.
And then when I turned 15 I was attacked. This brought the feeling that I was in the wrong body back to the surface, but knowing that I couldn’t talk to my parents about it because they wouldn’t understand I suffered in silence. By the age of 18 or 19 I had been diagnosed with depression due to the attack I went through and problems that were going on at home again. I felt nobody would understand. I am now 25 and have been attending Mind for almost a year and am finally realizing that if I don’t try to find the right type of help then I am never going to be the person that I was born to be. I have also been volunteering with St John Ambulance for a couple of months now and the part that I was fearing the most was informing them. I have since informed my unit manager and she was very sympathetic and informed me that there are already a number of transgender volunteers in the organization, that the uniform is gender neutral and there is a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination in the organization.
It seems like having a gender identification problem has become a little less of a social taboo and that society as a whole is a little more open minded than it has been in the past towards LGBT issues, but even with this openness it seems that people from the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) communities are constantly discriminated against, despite the Equality Act. I get the impression that people are scared of anything that doesn’t abide by the normal male and female relationship. It feels like coming out as Transgender or gay is the scariest thing one will ever do and I’m sure most of that comes from the fear of rejection from friends, parents and from society, but is this something that should be feared? If loved ones can’t bring themselves to accept you for who you identify as, whether that be female, male or some other combination surly that is their loss as you are still the same person; its just you have grown tired of trying to hide the fact that you identify as something that is not the norm.
Research has shown that LGBT youth have a higher rate of suicide attempts than heterosexual youth. Surely this shows how hard it is in today’s society for the LGBT community, that most would rather attempt suicide than find the help and support that they require. It is my opinion that more support should be given in schools, or that students should be put in touch with support groups so that the future generations don’t grow up with such disdain for the LGBT communities. All you have to do is look in the media at the moment more people are coming out of the proverbial closet and proving that someone’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with what that person can or can’t do. I know more and more charities are trying to help dispel the fears that people have. Its not like someone wakes up one morning and decides that they want to be the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual. I doubt anyone would want to willingly face the amount of discrimination that the LGBT community has to put up with, that much that most of the time they would rather be invisible.
For anyone going through this type of situation or for any one that has loved ones going through this I shall leave some links-
-and finally I think the only advice I can give is that suicide is never the answer. There is always help out there even if it’s not always the easiest thing to find.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.